Archive for October, 2014

28
Oct

My Invisible Child

invisible childI’m convinced that I’ve given birth to another child who is constantly creating havoc in my house! I’ve never seen this rascal but, according to my other kids, he is clearly the one to blame for all the trouble brewing in the house.

Who made this mess?!

Notme.

Who’s making all that daggone noise?!

Notme.

Ok, which one of y’all left all the lights on downstairs?

Notme.

On one hand, I guess I should be grateful for my child Notme. He didn’t take me through a thousand hours of labor. He doesn’t always have his hand out asking for a new pair of sneakers or video game. He’s not eating me out of house and home. He’s not constantly debating with me about what his friends’ parents let them do.

Yeah, I guess I shouldn’t complain…but seriously, Notme, you need to sit down somewhere and stop tearing up my damn house!

16
Oct

Flying the Coop

Baby-Bird-Learning-to-Fly1Why is it that folks look at me cross-eyed when I say that after graduating high school, I plan to push my children out of the nest?  From the time they entered kindergarten, I’ve lectured my children about the next 16 years of education. Although I myself received my education through the College of Life, by way of the military with a brief detour through college, I’ve always dreamed that my children would make smarter choices. So, college has always been an expectation.

However, I’m a realist, so I know that there’s a chance that my kids will upset even my best laid plans. So should they choose to forego an immediate trek to college post-graduation, the only other option would be the military where he or she could learn a trade, travel the world, earn a living, and still attend college (on the government’s dime) should they later change their mind. No matter what, either of these options would come well packaged with tons of hugs, a starter care package, and a new set of luggage. This was, after all, the same parting gift that my mom gave to me upon graduation. At the time, however, I was naïve enough to believe that my mother was simply encouraging my spirit of adventure; now, I can look back and see her not so subtle hint on what my next steps should be.

At no point, however, have I ever entertained what’s behind Door No. 3 – an extended stay at home, whether it was just to “take a break from school” or work at the local McDonald’s. This is so not an option.

Let me say that I really do love my children. However, for the past 17 years I have lovingly sacrificed my body, my energy, and at times my sanity to raise my children. Is it wrong of me to view graduation as the finish line at the end of a double marathon; the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; the light at the end of the tunnel?

Graduation is not just for the child. It is an acknowledgment that parents have successfully paid their dues and can finally reap what they’ve sown. So, pardon me if I choose to push my little birdies out the nest should they not feel compelled to fly the coop on their own. Fly, baby, fly!

15
Oct

Cinderella Man

glass bootMany of us know this guy. By day, he’s the charmingly witty guy at work who’s constantly regaling us with entertaining stories about his life adventures – where he’s been, where he’s going, who he knows, who he’d like to meet. He’s the Prince of the Ball.

He’s the fella chasing 50 and rainbows, reminiscing on the good ol’ days. He’s by himself so much that you can only imagine that he’s unattached. Or, was it because, as he says, his situation is complicated. Of course, it could just be the inconspicuous absence of a band on his left hand, or the impassioned tale that he’s separated but living in the same house (and likely the same bed)…for the kids, of course.

But, once the clock strikes…gone is the Prince of the Ball. Cinderella Man appears. I call him the single, married man. Do you know him? Or, does the glass shoe fit?

13
Oct

Taming the Beast

elephant-on-scaleI don’t think I’d ever acknowledged even to myself that I had weight woes. After all, I’d been blessed with good genes that, for most of my life, allowed me to eat whatever I wanted without fear of it hanging around too long. I was that girl who was actually trying to gain weight, regularly downing milkshakes, pasta and potatoes in an effort to round out my girlish figure. (Let me tell you, it’s hard being a black woman with no meat on your bones.)

Well, somewhere in the black hole of my 20s and 30s, my children entered into this world each bearing the gift of 10+ pounds that I toted around like trophies of post-childbirth. And, before I realized it, I was eyeballing someone else’s body whenever I passed by a reflection. Yet, I still wouldn’t give voice to what I knew was becoming an issue for me.

However, enlightenment came to me when I didn’t expect it – during a summer excursion with the kids to the National Zoo.

The zoo’s elephant house has an exhibit where zoo visitors can step on a floor scale to see how they compare in weight to other wildlife. Good-naturedly, I waited as the man ahead of me stepped on the scale, absently noting his weight in my mind as he moved forward off the scale. Then it was my turn. I instinctively shifted my weight from one foot to the other, as if trying to recalibrate the scale, as my mind subconsciously tried to rationalize why the numbers on the scale went up once I’d stepped on the scale. Then I looked up at the wildlife chart, and everything went still.

I was the equivalent of a wildebeest. A wildebeest!

(Of course, this is where the story becomes blurry. I think I may have blacked out.)

I was completely devastated. My children spent the remainder of the afternoon – unsuccessfully – trying to talk me down off of the mental ledge.

Mom, it’s not that bad.

You look fine to us.

You look good for your age.

It wasn’t a wildebeest…I think it said you were closer to a baby African elephant.

I’m sure they meant well – in a let-me-kick-you-while-you’re-down-kinda-way – but I was inconsolable. No longer could I rest on my laurels that I was just carrying around “baby fat,” despite the fact that my daughter was going into kindergarten. I was lugging around a wilderbeast, for crying out loud!

There in the elephant house I finally admitted to myself that my metabolism hadn’t slowed down. I had. That lean, mean fat-burning machine that I’d lived in most of my life was decades gone. Milkshakes, pasta, and potatoes (preferably fried) were no longer close friends of mine. They’d become squatters who’d long overstayed their welcome. And, it was time to clean house.

While I would have preferred to come to this realization in a less traumatic fashion, I am now grateful for my elephant house epiphany. It was just the sort of shock trauma that I needed to wake up and face myself in the mirror. I can now look back on that experience, 20 pounds lighter, and laugh because I’ve finally learned how to tame my inner wildebeest.